The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Mark 2

Mar 2:1

Mar 2: "The ministry of the Lord Jesus continued with works of healing to demonstrate the greater power of Yahweh over that of the flesh. In that work, God was in Christ reconciling the works unto Himself, and revealed His ultimate purpose to remove all iniquity, evil and disease from this earth of His creation. So Mark records (1) The Lord heals the palsied man: vv 1-12. (2) The call of Matthew: vv 13,14. (3) Matthew's feast: vv 15-17. (4) Discipleship contrasted: vv 18-22. (5) Conflict with the Pharisees re the sabbath: vv 23-28. The question of fasting was important (v 18). Evidently this question was posed three times; first to the Pharisees, then a little later by the people, and also by John's disciples among others who 'were waiting for him' (Luk 8:40). The question and answer were most important and expressed a note of divergence between the popular John and the new teacher who had been endorsed by the Baptist. The answer also claimed that Christ was the Bridegroom or Messiah, and set aside the extreme asceticism of the Pharisees. As news of his answer circulated among the people, they approached him for confirmation. Finally the disciples of John made their individual and personal approach" (GEM).

A FEW DAYS LATER: "After some days" (AV). "At the end of the religious year?" (WGos 129).

CAPERNAUM: Called in Mat 9:1 "his own city"! Cp Joh 2:12: Christ moved his family there.

Mar 2:2

GATHERED: Lit, "synagogued". Was this at the synagogue (cp Mar 3:1)?

Mar 2:3

BRINGING: "Like an empty pitcher to the fountain to be filled."

PARALYTIC: One who is helpless. "When we were without strength Christ died for us" (Rom 5:6). Cp Rom 7:24,25; Isa 35:8.

CARRIED BY FOUR OF THEM: We have four good friends who can carry us into the presence of Christ, to receive forgiveness and healing: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John!

Mar 2:4

Such a house, with removable roof, is described in LB 358. Those who bring others to Christ must not be afraid of new methods. Some cannot/will not come on their own; they must be "brought"!

THEY MADE AN OPENING IN THE ROOF: Lit, "they unroofed the roof."

Mar 2:5

"Whoever comes to me I will never drive away" (Joh 6:37). The divine order: first, sins; then illnesses.

THEIR FAITH: Power of faith and intercession of others: Mat 8:13; 9:32; 15:28; 17:14-18; Luk 8:50; Joh 4:49; Jos 6:17; Gen 7:1; 18:32; 19:12; Act 27:24.

YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN: Fulfilling Mar 1:4.

Mar 2:7

WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS BUT GOD ALONE?: See Isa 43:25; Dan 9:9. But surely they were forgetting that on the Day of Atonement the High Priest acted on God's behalf to do this very thing!

Mar 2:8

Similar "hearings" by the Spirit in Luk 7:39,40; Mar 2:8; 9:33-37.

Mar 2:9

It is easier to SAY, "Your sins are forgiven", but harder to DO! The best proof of sins forgiven is to stand up and WALK!

Mar 2:10

The main purpose of the literal miracle was to demonstrate Christ's spiritual power to forgive sins.

THE SON OF MAN: "The embodiment of the race in whom the divine purpose with man is fulfilled; the second Adam who is the Beginning of a new creation" (SMk 31). The title used of Ezekiel (Eze 2:1...) and Daniel (Dan 8:17). Cp Gen 1:26; Psa 8:4-6; 80:17,18: "Ben-Adam"; Dan 7:13,14.

AUTHORITY: "There was given to him dominion (ie authority)" (Dan 7:14).

Mar 2:11

GET UP: The best proof of forgiveness: to "get up" and "walk" in new life.

Mar 2:12

Praising God for His healings: Psa 103:2,3. Healing and forgiveness together in Jam 5:15; Psa 107:17-21.

Mar 2:13

The "fisher of men" (Mar 1:17). The beginning of a second missionary cycle.

Mar 2:14

AS HE WALKED ALONG: Or, "passed by" (AV). We must not let Jesus pass us by!

FOLLOW ME: This calling of a new type of disciple -- a publican, not a fisherman -- emphasizes the broadening appeal of Christ's call -- and also that aspect of his ministry that brings him into conflict with the Pharisees (ie Mat 9:11; Mar 2:16; Luk 5:30). Typ of Isa 58:4-12: Fasting, garments, feasting, healing.

Mar 2:15

DINNER: Typ wedding feast (Mat 9:15; Mar 2:19; Luk 5:34,35). The calling of a new sort of disciple (a publican, not a fisherman): broadening appeal of Christ's call, and an affront to Pharisees (v 30). Cp Gen 21:8: a great feast, to publicly designate the heir to the promises. Again (as in Gen), immediately followed by mockery from the supposed "heir" -- ie the Pharisees (Mat 9:11; Mar 2:16; Luk 5:30) (WGos 133).

Mar 2:16

The Song of Songs forms the background for this section, but set also against the prophecy of Hosea: joy and forgiveness; the bride is indeed spotless, but only because her sins have been forgiven (v 10) (SMk 42,43).

"Any attempt at alliance with the Pharisees was bound to mean ruin for Jesus' movement, because the Pharisees were interested only in absorbing for their own prestige and benefit this and any other surge of religious enthusiasm" (WGos 137).

WHEN THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW WHO WERE PHARISEES SAW HIM...: They would not attend a meal with such guests, but they would watch from a distance to find fault.

THEY ASKED HIS DISCIPLES: Trying to drive a wedge between leaders and followers. How clever! Jesus is criticized to his disciples (Mat 2:11; Mar 2:16; Luk 5:30), and his disciples are criticized to Jesus (Mat 2:14; Mar 2:18; Luk 5:33)!

Mar 2:17

HEALTHY: Lit "the strong ones" (ct v 3). A powerful irony. "A suicidal self-sufficiency" (ADN 24).

I HAVE NOT COME... BUT...: A Heb idiom: "Not so much this as that." "Not only this but that also." Pro 8:10; Jer 7:22,23; Joel 2:13; Mar 9:37; Luk 14:26; Joh 3:17; 5:30; 6:27; 7:16; 9:30; 12:44,47; 14:24; Act 5:4; Rom 2:13; 1Co 7:10; 15:10; 1Jo 3:18.

SINNERS: "God's love in Christ, in its full measure, is offered not to those merely who are believing enough, penitent enough, reformed enough; it is offered to all those who will cast themselves on God, be it only with faith 'as a grain of mustard seed.' And to anticipate a common objection -- far from inducing laxity or presumption, provided that we have some understanding of the meaning of the cross, the effect of this kind of thinking is exactly opposite. Surely there is less presumption in receiving our forgiveness whole and entire at the hand of God at the outset and ever after as a purely loving gift, than in coming to Him afterwards at intervals with the sense that I am now a better man and therefore fitter to be forgiven. Paradoxical it may be, but it is undeniable Scripture truth that it is not the worthy, but the unworthy, whom a pardoning God receives" (Derek Brook, Xd 112:436).

Mar 2:18

WERE FASTING: This is a Mon or Thurs -- the 2 weekly fast days of Pharisaic tradition (SMk 42). Cp Luk 18:12n. Their fasting was, supposedly, to hasten the coming of the Messiah (WGos 136).

Mar 2:19

THE GUESTS OF THE BRIDEGROOM: "The children of the bridechamber" (AV). General term for all invited guests. "Eat, O friends, and drink abundantly, O beloved" (Song 5:1): the invitation of the bridegroom. Also an allusion to Joh 3:29.

Mar 2:20

THE BRIDEGROOM WILL BE TAKEN FROM THEM: For the first time, the "shadow of the cross" falls across Mark's pages. An allusion to Song 5:6,7. Also to Isa 53:8: "His life was taken away" (LXX).

ON THAT DAY THEY WILL FAST: The Pharisees fasted to hasten the coming of the Messiah, but now that he had come their whole system of traditions had been rendered meaningless.

Mar 2:21

The new way of life (which Christ brings) cannot be torn apart to patch an old and useless garment. The new "garment" must be used in its entirety. The old garment (like the fig-leaf coverings for Adam and Eve) must be put aside completely in favor of the new garment (as in the Garden, skins, which require the bloodshed of sacrifice).

Paul expresses the same point: "Put off old man; put on new man" (Eph 4:23,24; cp Exo 28r; Isa 61:1,3,10).

UNSHRUNK CLOTH: A cloth not properly prepared for a garment: Luk 5:36n. As with the prodigal son, only a new garment will suffice for a new life: Luk 15:22. Lit "raw", or "unfulled". To "full" a garment: to shrink, or otherwise prepare cloth by pressure, heat, or moisture.

Mar 2:22

V 22 is an amplification of v 21. The new life in Christ is not just a "patch" for the old; it is the "whole"! New wine bursting forth from all old containers. Cp Job 13:28: "Old bottles".

Mar 2:23

Cp Deu 23:25: Gleaning was permissible.

ONE SABBATH: "On the second sabbath after the first" (Luk 6:1, KJV, but phrase omitted in some mss): Prob the Sabbath which concluded the feast of Unleavened bread, 7 days after Passover sabbath (Lev 23:8) (WGos 149).

HEADS OF GRAIN: The month "Abib" (or Nisan) sig "early grain", ie spring.

Mar 2:24

THE PHARISEES: Luk 6:2 has "some of the Pharisees", impl two different attitudes now discernible among the Pharisees.

WHAT IS UNLAWFUL ON THE SABBATH: By rabbinical tradition, eating corn on Sabbath was lawful, but "harvesting" and "threshing" were forbidden.

Mar 2:25

Key point: David was the "anointed one", who came on the "king's business".

Mar 2:26

ABIATHAR: Why Abiathar rather than Abimelech? Abiathar was the one who left the sanctuary in order to follow David into exile (WGos 150). An example of choosing greater good, even at expense of formal tabernacle worship.

THE CONSECRATED BREAD: "Shewbread" (AV), "bread of the presence" (RSV).

Mar 2:27

The Sabbath was designed for positive good -- a blessing and not a burden! Israel was not to be slave to the sabbath. Instead, Israel was to be made free by the sabbath.

Mar 2:28

THE SON OF MAN IS LORD EVEN OF THE SABBATH: The Sabbath was designed for positive good; it should have been a blessing, not a burden.

Israel was not to be a "slave" to the Sabbath, but to be made free by it.

Jesus is the king of the future "rest", the true "Sabbath"!

EVEN: The "also" (AV) or "even" implies that Jesus is Lord of everything else! But why not, for one who can forgive sins (v 10)? In view of this monumental accomplishment, what else was really important anyway?

OF: Or "on".

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